Happy birthday, Teacher!

Meghan Vandermale, WorldTeach Rwanda volunteer, writes about spending her birthday with her students!

One of the first weeks of class, one of my sweet S1 girls asked when my birthday was. I told her and the whole class smiled and nodded in response. Then, on Monday, two days before my birthday at the end of class as I was about to leave, S1 asked if I would come to answer questions for them later in the week. (I have been going up to their classroom about once a week to give them a chance to ask questions individually). I proposed coming the next afternoon. "No, teacher, it is not possible, there is someone else coming that day." I thought that this was a bit strange since I had rarely seen another teacher come back to the school that late, but I proposed coming Thursday instead. "No teacher, Thursday is not good. You should come Wednesday." Well, I don't teach on Wednesday and was going into town in the evening, when they wanted me to come, so I told them I could come during the lunch break. "OK teacher, that is good because we need your help."

The next day, one of the girls came up to me and reminded me "Teacher, you are going to come tomorrow? We have MANY, MANY questions about math. It is VERY difficult." At the time, we were learning about adding and subtracting fractions which is never pleasant so I believed her. On Wednesday, my birthday, when I finished lunch with the teachers, I walked down to the S1 classroom. When I opened the door, I was immediately surrounded by my students shouting and throwing copious amount of confetti on my head (made from shredded old homework assignments). I was handed a large bouquet of flowers and several small ones were put in my hair. I was ushered to the front of the classroom while they sang a song to me. Then a few girls came up and did some Rwandan cultural dancing. To their delight, I attempted to join them. Afterwards, in typical Rwandan fashion, came a speech. The head of class came up and expressed her profound desire that I have a wonderful day of my birth. They were very proud of themselves that they had been so sneaky to ask for my birthday at the beginning of the year and then surprise me by remembering. I had to admit; I was very impressed and said so in the response speech I gave. Then, they asked me to sing a song for them. Unlike Rwandans, I just cannot bring myself to sing in public. So I tried to stall. "I don't know what song to sing."

"Teacher, do you know any Usher?"


"What about Kanye West?"


"What about Neyo?"


"Do you know Father Abraham had many sons?"

"…yes, I do know that one."

So, the class joined me in singing Father Abraham had many sons.

I left with a handful of flowers, homemade cards and various things made out of paper. My hair was covered in confetti and paper flowers and as I walked back to my house, I left a trail of confetti. Every year, at my house, my family has a competition to see who will get the most birthday cards. We put them up on the mantle to keep track of them. Every year, it's either my Mom or Dad that wins. But if I was home, I would definitely win this year. I wouldn't be able to fit all of my cards on the mantle. Here are some of the comments that were in my cards:

-"My good teacher or my dear friend or my homey. The first I salute you and God be with you everywhere you go…and when I was mature, I will come to American to see eye to eye." (Then she included a list of American singers: -Jackson Durrly, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, T.I, Rihanna, Alicia Keys.)

-"God bless you my love, you explain math very very good."

-"I love you, I will never forget you in my lif."

-"Have a good day and I see you, you become a good wife for your husband."

-"you are so beautiful to the body and to the heart."

-"I will never forget you because you know to teach mathematics and I want to go in your country for visit my uncle."

-"We love you because of your characteristics. I think, our country Rwanda is very good. We wish you to have a good life in Rwanda, even if you will return in USA."

-"teacher, I told you don't forget this card post is your card for your day of birth."

All in all, it's a birthday I won't forget. If only everyone could be so lucky to have such warm birthday greetings!

Meghan's birthday flowers

1 comment:

  1. Actually, that's not me in the picture, it's my neighbor Katy :)